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How long does it take to make an app and what development stages are there

If a startup owner wants to bring a relevant product to the market, attract investments, and fit the budget, then one needs to know how long it takes to make an app and how much it costs. In this article, learn about stages in making mobile app development and how long each of them takes.

Reading time: 8 minutes

Table of contents

    How to choose a contractor 

    You need about 5-6 people to make a mobile app: a project manager (PM), a UI/UX designer, 2-3 developers, and a QA engineer. Each one is required for app development services. There are few ways to build a team: hire in-house experts, contract freelancers, or go to a development agency. We advise you to choose an agency because its custom app development services will cost less than hiring an in-house team, and you don’t need to coordinate their work as in case with freelancers. Follow the link below to get more information on how to find software developers.

    What we need from the client

    So you have a team. Now let’s learn how to start developing an app. A startup owner has to know what users need and how to help them. Besides we need to know: 

    • Information about the project. Business model, deadlines (if you need to show the app to investors in a month, for example), main competitors.
    • Portrait of your target audience. We need maximum information describing people that will use the app: sex, age, social characteristics, and other details. 

    Based on this, we could estimate how long it will take to make an app.

    Development stages 

    Here’s how we make an app in Purrweb: 

    • Project estimation and functionality prioritization 
    • UI/UX design 
    • Developing app 
    • QA testing 
    • Release and support 

    It seems that the stages have to follow each other. But it’s not true. We follow the SCRUM methodology in our work. It means that we can add or leave functions at any stage. It is useful if the budget changes, you need to speed up the app’s time to market, or just want to add some new features. This way, the project doesn’t exceed deadlines and budget.  

    We get all information from the client and start to make an app.

    how long does it take to make an app

    Project estimation and functionality prioritization

    In this stage, we select the main apps features. To do this, the PM works with the client and gets all details about the project. It’s great when a client already has a market analysis and understands what they need. If not, we can carry out the market research. Based on it, we decide what features need to be in the app and collect them in a Google Sheets list. Then a team lead, a business analyst, and a UX designer estimate the scope of work to make an app

    Initially, the client and the PM lay out all potential app features that the client wants to see. As a result, it is a full-fledged mobile app estimation that needs > $120k and > 9 months for developing. The client and the PM prioritize features to start faster and spend 3 times less time and money. Thus we divide features into key and additional ones. The key features solve users’ problems. For example, the key feature in a food delivery app is order payment. Additional features make the app more convenient, but increase development budget and time. For example, you could add a restaurant review feature in a food delivery app. In the end, the client decides what features have to stay. 

    So we remove the excess and keep the most necessary features. This optimizes the development process. Thus it reduces the development time and saves the client’s budget. Quite important to know that if you lay out some large and complex functionality for your app, it needs more time to make an app

      An average of 2 weeks. 

    how long does it take to make an app

    UI/UX design

    Then it’s time for UI/UX design of the app. The goal of UI/UX design is to create mockups of the app. Developers will take these mockups to develop the app. At Purrweb, UI/UX design consists of 6 stages. 

    1. Collecting negative references. We ask the client to show us examples of app designs that they don’t like. It helps us cut off unsuitable variants. At the same time, we don’t box ourselves by the designs that our client like.

    2. Creating a mind map. It is a map of a user’s behavior. Designers convert the features from the Google Sheets list into a step-by-step scheme. Thus, we set up the navigation in the app.

    how long does it take to make an app

    3. Developing wireframes. A wireframe is a base for a concept and an end mockup. In wireframes, we roughly show the content and the basic functionalities, such as buttons, icons, text fields, pictures. We show where they will be located and how they will interact together.

    how long does it take to make an app

    4. Creating a concept. It consists of few finished screens showing one user path. It has colors, types, icons and elements made in one style. Besides, the concept interactively shows how this part of the app is working. So the client can present it to investors.

    how long does it take to make an app

    5. Ready-made mockups are all finished screens made in one style. It has all the other user paths. 

    6. A UI-kit is a set of the interface elements. It helps us create the app in the same style. Imagine that a finished mockup is a building, the UI-kit is all the bricks. Developers use these bricks to make an app so they don’t need to delve into design for laying the frontend. This means the UI-kit makes our work easier and saves development time.

    how long does it take to make an app

    All UI/UX design stages are recorded in Figma. It is a graphic editor where you can see all versions of mockups, comments, stages of work, and results. We can add the client to our Figma if they want. So the client can comment on the design and suggest edits. But one should be ready that the edits will increase the process of app development.

    We follow App Store’s and Play Market’s guidelines for app design. For example, button sizes, indents, clickable areas. Guides help to make sure that the design is right. These guidelines are just recommendations, so they don’t limit us. And we can be creative with design. Follow the link below to get more information about the design process.

    When we have a doubt about how the design will look in the working app, then we consult with our developers. Also, we go to Mobbin that is a collection of 50,000+ design screens from real apps. So we see how other designers create some elements, for example, scrolling. Now it is time to make a prototype. And then, when it is ready, the developing stage starts. 

    An average 2-4 weeks.

    App development

    At this stage, we add 2-3 developers to the team. We use React Native in our work. This means that the client gets two apps for iOS and Android at once as the deliverable. 

    We divide the developing process into 2-weeks-sprints. Each sprint we implement one or few features. At the end of each sprint, we have a demo for the client. So the client is always awares of the development results.

    We use Jira and Hubstaff to organize our work. It helps us to track what task each team member is doing, plan tasks for the sprint, and make reports for the client. We pin cards with the task status on Kanban board. So none of the tasks get lost or forgotten. But the most important thing is that these services help us calculate the time that we spend on each sprint and understand whether we stay on the deadlines. The client gets access to services at their request. 

    At average 2-6 months. The deadlines depend on the number of features and workload of the team.

    how long does it take to make an app

    QA testing

    QA testing goes together with the developing process. QA engineers are checking implemented features while developers make new ones. The goal is to find bugs there. Testers reproduce different use cases and try to break the app. If there is any bug, they describe it and report it to developers to fix. Every 2 sprints we do the regression testing. Testers run all the features and check how they work together. The stage’s goal is the working app with the features’ work as expected. As a result, we get a full-fledged mobile app. 

    We ask the client to registers a developer’s account in Apple for immediately testing the app on their side. For testing the Android app, we upload it on the Google Play Console. The client downloads and tests the app.

    how long does it take to make an app

    Release and support

    QA testing isn’t the last stage in the process of making an app. To upload an app to the stores, we need to follow requirements of the App Store and the Google Market. We mentioned them at the design stage. At the development stage, we have already done everything as it should be. So there are no problems with releasing the app. 

    This isn’t the end. The first users give feedback on the app. They share their opinion, tell what is not enough, and what can work better. Thus, it helps the client to improves the app. Usually the client asks us to support and improve the apps if they don’t have their own team. Also, we can add some new features if the client wants.

    At average from week to infinity.

    how long does it take to make an app

    Examples of apps

    Follow the link below if you want to get examples of how we do custom app developing services. In this case, you learn how we made all planned features in 5 months. Also we’ll tell you what technologies and instruments we used in the developing process and how we fought to upload the app to the App Store.

    If you have the idea to create a food delivery app, then read our guide on food delivery app development. We are describing the key functionality for clients, users, and restaurants. And the article includes information about how much it costs and how long does it take to make an app.

    Summing up: the development period and what affects it 

    There are 5 stages to make an app in Purrweb. According to our experience, it takes to get a product to market in 3-9 months. Here is what affects the process of making an app

    • The number of features and their complexity. If you know what users need, it’s easy to determine and to prioritize the necessary functionality. The better the client conducts the market and the target audience research, the fewer changes and improvements will be in the process. 
    • Team: organization of work, communication within it, workload in general. 

    We have prepared some cases with the process and the costs of the mobile app development. Do you have any ideas that your startup needs? Write to us to discuss it. We decide what the functionality is needed and create the design together. Then count the costs of the development and how long does it take to make an app. Besides, you can try our calculator to find the approximate cost.

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